Friday, August 31, 2007

Bye Bye Summer!

Summer's coming to an end and soon we will be dreaming of fireplaces, woolens, and sweaters (although here in the South this won't be a reality for a few more months!). So, in honor of this waning season, here are a few breezy homes that capture the spirit of summer.

Kemble Interiors

Katie Ridder

Miles Redd

Christopher Maya

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Elsa Peretti

One designer whose work I've long admired is Elsa Peretti. Her jewelry and accessories were de rigeur in the 1970s and are still in demand today.

Inspired by nature, Peretti creates objects that are organic in shape and luxurious in material. Working predominately with sterling silver, terracotta, and glass, Peretti elevates such humble things as apples, bones, and even thumb prints into something completely chic and glamorous. Some of her iconic designs include the sterling bone cuff, the bone candlestick, the thumb print bowl, and the glass heart paperweight. While Peretti has designed mainly for Tiffany, she also is also known for her design of the Halston perfume bottle (she and Halston were very close friends).

The great thing about Peretti pieces is that they work in both modern and traditional settings. And while the designs may have been rather cutting edge when they were introduced over 30 years ago, their popularity proves that Peretti's work is truly timeless.

Silver thumbprint bowl, at Tiffany & Co.

Pair of Terracotta candlesticks available at Lost City Arts

Cobalt heart paperweight at Tiffany & Co.

The iconic sterling bone cuff, at Tiffany & Co.

A few Peretti objets in the home of Robert Rufino- mixed in with the Van Day Truex Bamboo flatware (House & Garden 11/04)

Halston perfume- the bottle was designed by Peretti

Image at top: A 1975 Helmut Newton photograph of Peretti

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Exotic Fabrics

For many centuries, the exoticism of such far-away places as Asia, the Far East, and Russia captivated Westerners. This fascination is quite evident in much of the decorative arts that were produced in the 18th and 19th centuries. Although we now have a more accurate picture of these once distant lands, the traditional pictorials are still charming. So, in that vein I thought I would post some fabrics which capture the spirit of the exotic.

"Diaghilev", linen & cotton, by Clarence House

"Manchuria" by Vervain

"Jahangir" cotton by Lee Jofa

"Kipling" linen/cotton in Ebony by Lee Jofa

"Beauport Promenade", glazed chintz, by Brunschwig & Fils

Image at top: A 19th c. blue and white ceramic plate depicting an Indian scene; collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fancy Feathers

The motif of the three ostrich feathers- actually part of the heraldic badge of the Prince of Wales- has been incorporated into the decorative arts through the ages. Many Hepplewhite chairs, for example, have the three feathers carved into their backs. Wallis Simpson, a.k.a Duchess of Windsor, had a diamond encrusted pin (above) with this emblem (it was later purchased by La Liz at auction).

While the ostrich feather motif may not be as recognizable as that other monarchical symbol of the fleur-de-lis, it is no less distinctive. In fact, it can be downright glamorous. Just look at those Jansen consoles below.

One of a set of 6 Mahogany Hepplewhite chairs, 19th c., from Thomas Jolly Antiques

Maison Jansen console tables, c. 1940s, available at Alan Moss

"Cheyney Walk" paper by Cole & Sons. Not technically the three feather motif but the lines are quite similar.

Pair of silver leaf brackets, c. 1850, from O'Sullivan Antiques

Grosfeld House crystal wall brackets, c. 1945, at Florian Papp. They may just have one feather each, but they're beautiful nonetheless.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Some designers feel that one of the best ways to create a cohesive look in a small space is to repeat the same print throughout. I recently found these photographs of the late designer Greg Jordan's apartment, and I think he certainly adhered to this tenet.

Jordan's apartment had a living room that was 13' X 16' and a bedroom which was 10' X 15'- rather small. Jordan's solution to making the space seem larger was to use the same fabric on everything- walls, windows, upholstery, bed. By employing this scheme, the boundaries of the room seem to disappear. The fabric he chose was of his own design: a chain-link fence print. Obviously done tongue-in-cheek, Jordan wanted to create an "urban version of those eighteenth-century English trellis patterns."

To me, the effect is not necessarily overwhelming. I think that the other objects in the room- books, antique furniture, and other bibelots- soften the severity of the chain-link pattern. They also seem to take center stage against this unified background. I actually find the whole look rather charming.

That said, I don't think this look is for everyone. You would have to make sure that the print you choose is one that you love (and one that you will love for a long time!). Also, might one feel claustrophobic being surrounded by one print everywhere? In a quest to "eliminate" borders might you feel a bit caged in?

Jordan's living room

Another view of the living room

The bedroom with more of the chain-link print

(All images and quotations taken from "House Beautiful- Decorating for Small Spaces")

Friday, August 24, 2007

Graphic Classics

My post yesterday made me think about classic color combinations, and in my mind there's nothing more classic than black and white. Think black and white marbled floors, black and white striped awnings, and even black and white silhouettes. This graphic color combination is always crisp, tailored, and elegant. You may not want to design an entire room entirely in black and white, but perhaps these black and white items might inspire you to add a little graphic punch to your home.

"Tess" chair by Chair Couture

"Black Aves Platinum" by Royal Crown Derby

Black and white striped ottoman, one of a set of 3, at Dragonette Limited

Black and white obelisks at Biggs Powell

Chevron patterned black and white tray by Oscar de la Renta for Lunt

"Black and White Story" stationery from Kate Spade

Image at top: Hampshire House, New York, designed by Dorothy Draper. One of Draper's favorite color combinations was "dull white and shiny black". One of her trademark looks was black and white checkered floors- beautiful and stylish then, still so today!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Classics

Trends may come and go, but there are certain "things" that never go out of style- and thank heavens for this! I have no issues with indulging in current fads- I'm guilty of having displayed the ubiquitous coral! But decorating your home entirely with trend-driven items is not the way to achieve a timeless look. Who wants to spend the time and money reupholstering a sofa a year from now because the chosen fabric is no longer stylish?

Fortunately for us there are many timeless pieces that have stood the test of time. Here are but a few classics that are always appropriate and always stylish.

(Stay tuned for future Classics posts...)

Classic Candle:

Yes, the heady scent of Rigaud candles is evocative of the go-go years of the 1980s, but there's no denying the allure of Rigaud. They were, after all, the preferred candles of Diana Vreeland.

Classic Lighting:

The swing-arm lamp was first introduced to the marketplace by George Hansen. Such a simple yet innovative idea. If you've ever used one, you know how handy (and stylish) these lamps truly are.

Classic Linen:

Alright, it seems a lot of people don't "get" Porthault prints. Some say they're too matronly and too old-school. Well, what's wrong with that? Jackie Onassis and Wallis Simpson certainly didn't have a problem with it. Trust me, once you get hooked on Porthault, there is no going back!

Classic Flatware:

"Bamboo" flatware by Tiffany & Co. First introduced in 1961, this legendary pattern was designed by Van Day Truex who, in my opinion, was a classic in his own right.

Classic Fabric:

"Les Touches" by Brunschwig & Fils. A graphic take on the animal print. I once read where Geoffrey Beene swathed an entire room in this fabric!

Classic Chair:

The slipper chair, seen often in interiors by the Billys (Baldwin and Haines).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hadley's Favorite Things

Albert Hadley has, in my opinion, the best "eye" in the business. I'm sure that from time to time Hadley makes mistakes, but if so I certainly can't tell. He has such a knack for finding those perfect pieces, whether it is a piece of furniture or an accessory. And the items that he does choose are timeless; in fact, many finds have been used by Hadley for years and in various settings. One of the most striking possessions of Hadley is a gold nut/pod (or is it a fruit? a vegetable?) tureen. It has been photographed in Hadley's Southport, Connecticut home and in the 2001 Kips Bay showhouse (see above), just to name a few. I don't know anything about this tureen but I just love it! Here are some other Hadley pieces that I covet:

The fabulous "what is it?" tureen in Hadley's country home.

Is this bookcase not amazing- it's a German piece that commemorates the 1928 Olympics. Also note the drawing by Van Day Truex, one of Hadley's great friends.

Notice this little modern red zig-zag table in the reception room of Parish-Hadley...

Well, here it is again, this time in Hadley's bedroom.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Bold and the Beautiful

If the dark colors of yesterday's post were too dramatic for you, then perhaps you may like these bright, vivid colors more. Why not drench the walls of your dining room with some bold, bright color? It will certainly make an impact in a room that is not often used. My current favorites are bright blue (teal might even look rather daring), lavender, and that old stand-by red. One of my all-time favorite dining rooms, however, is the one above in the Paris home of Mathilde Agostinelli. I know I've shown this image numerous times, but doesn't this photograph make you want to paint any room this glorious shade of pink (or at least find some shocking pink table linen)?

Perhaps with colors like these, you may just start dining in the dining room on a regular basis.

Suggested shades:
"Blue Ground" by Farrow & Ball- a great light blue
"Chinese Blue" by Farrow & Ball- a deeper blue which looks fantastic when paired with red accent pieces
"Scarlet O'Hara" by Pratt & Lambert- a true red

"Peace and Happiness" by Benjamin Moore- a beautiful shade of lavender
"Coral Reef" by Sherwin Williams- a coral shade of pink

I've always been taken with this dining room designed by legend Frances Elkins. Yes, a red dining room may be a bit predictable, but who can deny the timeless allure of it?

I think that this shade of purple, chosen by designer Steven Gambrel, would look great in a dining room as well. A little unusual but very striking!

I love vivid blue dining rooms- think about how great some red accents would look against this shade of blue. Designer- Jan Showers

A "wow" shade of pink chosen by Mary McDonald. I could definitely see this used in a feminine dining room such as Agostinelli's dining room above.